Monday, May 4, 2015

The List

The List -- last week's version. Ignore the foolish red-pen remarks.

Today is May 4 -- tomorrow is May 5. Trivial statement, but el cinco de mayo happens to be the day when AMCAS 2015 opens. I'm a damn mess.

(AMCAS = American Medical College Application Service)

It's happening, and I'm at once shaking in my boots and ready at the starting block.

I am ready: I've spent the last three years preparing myself for this process, preparing myself for my future as a physician, preparing myself for years and years of humility and hard work. More importantly, I've given myself ample time and opportunities to learn and understand who I am and what I stand for, what I believe my purpose in this world is, and how I must best contribute to this community I live in. Furthermore, grades (low, but acceptable), MCAT (high, thankfully), and all the other things are done and accounted for.

I am not ready: I don't know where I'm applying to. The List is still under construction. My personal statement is still an unfinished draft.

Most of all, I am fucking scared.

It's not cold feet that I have, though. I've wanted this for my entire life. Before I even knew what I was good at, I knew in some capacity that I wanted to be a doctor. Childhood dreams are pretty silly and meaningless until they really do become attainable. If I screw up now, then what?

The List is something that I'd begun toying with in high school -- and it's stupid to think that it was because I knew that Johns Hopkins was a top med school, that Stanford and Harvard were also up there, and that I only wanted to be The Best. Shitty way of thinking, but from the beginning of college, I always had some little fantasy of getting my MD training at some super institution -- and that was before my GPA tanked, before I took my MCAT, and before I really knew a damn thing about being premed.

Building my list, I eventually understood, was pretty much pointless until I had an MCAT score in hand. Even with an absurd MCAT score, I was stung by my GPA and built a school list that, eventually, my friends said undercut me.

And so after spring break, some clinic friends (four of whom will be attending top 10 MD programs this fall) gave me their input: I needed to aim high. They cited that LizzyM number, which I didn't buy. I've gotten very good at beating myself down about being bad at school, bad at organic chemistry, iffy at E&M, and so their advice to put top schools on my list that I'd long before shot down as being unrealistic came as a shock.

And even now, I don’t know what to do. More or less, my selection methodology before was to take out all schools for which I was UNDER the 10th percentile GPA for (an embarrassing amount) and schools for which I was OVER the 90th percentile MCAT for. This means I can go to almost zero med schools, so I scrapped that idea. LizzyM occurred to me, but I have off-kilter numbers -- bra size analogy withheld.

But, vaguely, I have come up with a different sort of selection criteria, and have adopted a very labor-intensive method for cutting my list down.

Questions for consideration:

  1. Do I fulfill all the admissions requirements?
  2. Location? (How safe is the campus and surroundings? Where do med students live? Proximity to airport? -- and, of course, I prefer California)
  3. What does the tuition look like?
  4. Home orthopedic department?
  5. Curriculum and interest groups (student-run free clinic is a must)

And things of that ilk. As I stand right now, I have a list of 34 that I want to eventually cut to 25. At least I'm putting more thought into it than I did for college apps.

(I added UC Berkeley last-second to my UC App. My mother practically forced me to, but I am pretty grateful that she did. Go Bears and such.)

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